Had a very fun dinner the other night with a few friends who are legal historians (and one philosopher) and the discussion turned to Django. I said something along the lines of, if anything Tarantino under-played the violence in the institution of slavery. And from the looks at the table -- even from my friend who's an expert on the sexual violence of slavery -- I may be the only person around who feels that way about the movie.
But that set me to thinking some more about the movie. Did you know that the screenplay is on the internet? The screenplay does not entirely match the movie. And in one respect, there is an important difference: whereas in the movie Calvin Candie purchased Broomhilda (and Django and Schultz find out about this through a title search), in the screenplay Broomhilda came into Candie's possession through a card game at the Cleopatra Club, in which Broomhilda's owner (and lover) bet her. The owner than protested that Candie had cheated at cards and Candie threw a revolver on the table to challenge him to a duel.
Now, I'm somewhat skeptical of the role we can properly assign to honor in the old South -- but no one can dispute that the duel is central to culture in the old South. Bertram Wyatt-Brown's Southern Honor certainly demonstrates the importance of duels to southern life. And it's really interesting to me that Tarantino had planned one for Django. This is further evidence that some serious historical work went into this movie.